Former Australian captain Ricky Ponting has predicted host England will emerge in the final at Lord’s on Sunday, July 14, as champion of the ICC Men’s 2019 Cricket World Cup.
Hosts England are contesting a World Cup final for the first time since 1992 after beating top-class opponents in their last three games. In the second semi-final in Edgbaston they stormed against their archrival and defending champion Australia with eight points ahead. Ponting, who was Australia’s assistant coach for the tournament, believed that England would emerge victorious with his fourth World Cup final.
“I think England will win,” Ponting told cricket.com.au. “I said before the tournament started, I thought they were exceptionally hard to beat, I had them as favorites, nothing changes now.”
The two-time captain of the World Cup also praised the Australian Trans-Tasman rivals New Zealand, who will compete for the second time in a row in the final of the World Cup. He believed, however, that England, with the quality of the talent that they possess, stands as a firm favorite.
“New Zealand has done remarkably well to reach the final, and two consecutive World Cup finals are a great achievement for this group, and they’ll have some experience to take from the final, while neither of the English players have already played in a final, “he said. “Apart from that, I think there’s a bit too much class in this English team to win.”
Ponting, who scored a match-winning 140* in the final of the 2003 edition against India at The Wanderers, rued his team’s failure in crunch moments in this edition.
“Unusually for Australian teams in World Cups, we played our worst cricket in the most critical moments. I said right at the start of the tournament you have to play your best cricket at the back end, and you have to stand up in the big moments,” he said. “We won all the big moments in the first half of the tournament and we’ve lost most of the big moments in the last couple of games.”
Australia had been a dominant force through much of the group stage, losing only to India in their first eight matches and becoming the first team to qualify for the semi-finals. However, a 10-run defeat in their last round-robin game, against South Africa, gave them a second-place finish, after they had seemed set to top the points table. To make matters worse, they lost Usman Khawaja, who became the second player, after Shaun Marsh, to be ruled out of the remainder of the tournament due to injury.
Ponting emphasised that Australia still had the right combinations, but failed to produce clinical performances when it mattered the most. “Tactically, I think we got things right,” he said. “Personnel-wise, we picked the best team that we could for every game. Unfortunately, we’ve come up short for the last couple of games.”